Disney is being heavily criticized for using make-up to darken the skin of white actors in its upcoming live-action adaptation of their 1992 animated classic “Aladdin,” The Sunday Times reports.
The movie is being filmed at Longcross Studios, Surrey, neat the British capital of London where over a million people of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Arab heritage reside, but the company has still resorted to “browning up” stuntmen, dancers, and camel handler, per the Daily Mail.
“This is the most diverse cast ever assembled for a Disney live action production. More than 400 of the 500 background performers were Indian, Middle Eastern, African, Mediterranean and Asian,” Disney said in response to the report.
But some believe the company should be doing more. Kaushal Odedra, who worked as a stand-in for a leading actor, told The Times he saw 20 “very fair-skinned” actors waiting to have their skin tone changed.
“On one set, two palace guards came in and I recognized one as a Caucasian actor, but he was now a darkly tanned Arab,” he said. “I moved inside the marquee where there were 10 extras and two were Caucasian, but they had been heavily tanned to look Middle Eastern.”
“The talent exists and is accessible, and there’s no way that Asian extras could not have been hired to meet the needs of the film.”
TV director Riaz Meer expressed his outrage too. “Failing to hire on-screen talent of the right ethnic identity to meet the clear needs of this production is just plain wrong,” he said. “We expect better from all filmmakers.”
Disney has not yet revealed a release date for “Aladdin,” which will be directed by British filmmaker Guy Ritchie and will feature Will Smith as Genie, Mena Massoud as Aladdin, Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine and Marwan Kenzari as the villain Jafar.
In September of last year, Smith shared a photo of himself and a few co-stars on set.
“I’m over here gettin’ my Genie on,” he captioned the image.